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Mogadishu gets first dry cleaners in years

June 8, 2012 at 12:06 PM

MOGADISHU, Somalia, June 8 (UPI) -- Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, now has new dry cleaners -- the first to open in the city since the start of the country's civil war more than two decades ago.

Businessman Mohamed Mahamoud Sheik said he decided to open the store when he returned to Mogadishu after years living abroad, the BBC reported. Sheik had observed businessmen had suits cleaned abroad.

"My dad, friends and people in the government were taking their clothes to be dry-cleaned in Kenya," Sheik said.

"They either took them themselves or gave them to friends who were flying to Nairobi."

Now, when people read the store's sign, "Somali Premium Laundry," Sheik said, "They say, 'Wow, is this a real laundry?'"

He noted security has improved in Mogadishu in the past 10 months since African Union and government forces drove Islamic militants out of the city.

Sheik, who has a business degree from a university in Malaysia, learned about dry cleaning by spending time at a dry cleaners owned by a friend.

Starting his business proved tough, he said. He had to order expensive equipment from the United States, Dubai and Italy and finding a site was difficult because many people are trying to open businesses in Mogadishu, he said.

"Because the city is more peaceful now, everybody is running to find a place to open a business," Sheik said. "Getting a building is really hard in Mogadishu these days because there is so much competition for space."

Sheik said he plans to give some of his profits to a school for the blind and deaf in Mogadishu.

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